Funded over three years, this research (O’Shea, May & Stone, 2014; O’Shea, 2015-2016) sought to explore how universities can support first-in-family students more effectively. These students are highly intersected and so the First in Family project explored how we can remove or at least reduce institutional barriers for this cohort. These projects were each deeply qualitative in nature and hoped to generate productive recommendations that would help students to overcome personal barriers that they encounter in their quest for higher education. We also wanted to explore ways in which universities can respond more effectively to student diversity and how they can connect with families and community of first-in-family students. However, when we talked with the students, a number asked how their stories would directly provide other students with guidance as they navigated their way through university, and so the First in Family website was born!

From this initial website, a First in Family Blog has been created where ongoing research and work in this space can be published.

Other Outputs include:


O’Shea, S., May, J., Stone, C., & Delahunty, J. (2017).  First-in-Family Students, University Experience and Family Life: Motivations, Transitions and Participation. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Journal Articles (selected):

O’Shea, S., Stone, C., Delahunty, J. & May, J. (2018). Discourses of betterment and opportunity: Exploring the privileging of university attendance for first-in-family learners.Studies in Higher Education. 43:6, 1020-1033, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2016.1212325.

May, J., Delahunty, J., O’Shea, S. & Stone, C. (2016). Seeking the passionate career: first-in-family enabling students and the idea of the Australian university. Higher Education Quarterly. Vol 70 (4) October pp.384-399.

Stone, C., O’Shea, S., May, J., Delahunty, J. & Partington, Z. (2016). Opportunity through online learning: experiences of first-in-family students in online open-entry higher education. Australian Journal of Adult Learning. 56(2), 146-169.